Vaoala Vanilla farmer explores online
With COVID-19 border restrictions, a local vanilla farmer has shared her transition to ecommerce in order to explore the global market for her products. On the hills of Vaoala is a quarter acre organic vanilla farm managed by former Samoa Cancer Society Chief Executive Officer, Shelly Burich.
For over 14 years, Ms. Burich has developed her Vaoala Vanilla farm which she now exports her premium vanilla to countries such as New Zealand.
During her journey to transition to an online shopping platform, she discovered HIWA which is an e-coaching, e-mentoring and e-commerce self-development programme based in New Zealand.
The programme works with indigenous Pacific women to create their business or service online through the Shopify platform which is an online shopping to sell online, on social media, or in person.
The Vaoala vanilla farmer decided to invest NZ$400 to take part in a nine weeks online course through HIWA which is worth NZ$4,000.
“To me it is an investment worth doing and I am currently taking the course,” she said.
She added that she saw it as an opportunity especially that she left her full time work and devote all her time into her farming business.
“I know the fee could be expensive for some but it just depends on how much you want to invest in your business; I think it is very important how much you want to invest in building your skills and getting yourself ready.
“I am very confident that this is going to be very beneficial not only for my business but for me as a person.
“There are only two Samoans in this course and it’s myself and local fashion designer Dinah Schmidt Macdonald.”
She also highlighted the course not only talks about the Shopify but it also coaches the participant on business management.
“It is an amazing group, every single one of us has strengths in different areas and we get to learn from others.
“There will always be challenges but it is just up to the person. I have been growing vanilla for over 14 years and I know my product and its value in terms of premium quality that I deliver.
“I need to work on the quantity of vanilla and if I can try and encourage others in village communities to start growing as well.”
Ms. Burich also relayed that with border restrictions, the Spotify platform allows her to go global.
“Another advantage of Spotify is that it not only sells products or just an item, but also services as an example is one hour financial consultation online.
“I am looking at doing a lot of video tutorials of what I do on the farm and putting those on Shopify and getting people when they want to learn something including all my products.
“I want women to understand that the global community loves following a story so I whatever I learn I would pass it to others. You could be sitting at home and making money.”
She also encouraged others to step out of their comfort zone.
“And also there is a six months free trial for HIWA participants which will give you a lot of time to build and learn more about it and build your business and give you time to start putting together what you think could sell on the online platform
“We all have to understand that if you really want something to happen then you have to make it happen you can’t just sit back and wait for it to come to you.”